Books By The Pound?!
July 27, 2011 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Where to sell used books that isn't Half-Price Books? Special Snowflake lurking within.

My girlfriend has a bunch of non-textbook books that she was required to buy for various classes over the past year. Is there somewhere in Chicagoland that will buy books for more than fifty cents a pound, or whatever obscure and painful metric HPB uses? Authors include Dan Brown, Jodi Picoult, Katherine Ann Porter, and others. She's also trying to get rid of some older children's books, but that's besides the point.
posted by ThePantsAvenger to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You will not get much of anything for bestsellers from the last decade. These are all selling for 1 cent each on Amazon and have virtually no cash value. Can you donate them anywhere?
posted by cosmicbandito at 1:37 PM on July 27, 2011

Jim at Ravenswood Used Books in Lincoln Square pays relatively high prices for individual books, but he's quite discerning and usually only takes about half of what I bring in. I'm not sure he'd go for recent bestsellers

I've had luck at Powell's, but they don't pay as much.

You might also be interested in Market Fresh Books, which claims that they're interested in Dan Brown-type books and will pay for entire lots. I've never sold there myself.
posted by theodolite at 1:38 PM on July 27, 2011

BookSlueth will look at the prices across sites.
posted by k8t at 1:39 PM on July 27, 2011

You can try Better World Books. Not sure how their prices are for selling books to them, but they're heavily into social causes, promoting literacy in third-world countries, recycling etc. So at the very least you may feel better about yourself even if you don't get too much for your books.
posted by reptile at 1:40 PM on July 27, 2011

Rather than selling them, have you considered an online swap site like Paperback Swap? I used that when I had a ton of books an old roommate left behind that I wanted to unload, and it's been working pretty well. Some of the big names may not go right away (it may take a while to unload the Dan Brown), but others may move pretty quick. and -- you get a point for every book you send out to someone and trade it in for something YOU really want.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:41 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

You can get a sense of what they're worth on - create an account and plug in the ISBNs and it will tell you the suggested prices. They're really low. I used their suggested price of $2.00 for a bestseller, sold it right away, and lost money because I forgot I had to buy packaging.
posted by desjardins at 2:12 PM on July 27, 2011

I know Myopic Books buys and sells, but not sure what their prices are like for purchasing books.
posted by anotheraccount at 2:45 PM on July 27, 2011

That said, honestly, you're probably gonna get next to nothing for Jodi Picoult, Dan Brown, etc. Every used bookstore has dozens of copies of books by those authors, so I wouldn't be surprised if a store that's not buying by the pound would pay you anything decent or even accept them.
posted by anotheraccount at 2:46 PM on July 27, 2011

I'm going to ditto what others have said about those books being pretty much worthless--your GF might be best off donating them to a library (which will then put them out on their "Friends of the Library" cart...) for the tax deduction. IIRC, the Near North branch of Powell's tended to have a lot of children's literature, but none of the Hyde Park dealers would be interested.
posted by thomas j wise at 3:18 PM on July 27, 2011

Former HPB employee here : "more than fifty cents a pound, or whatever obscure and painful metric HPB uses?"

Yeah, that's not how it works. We were expected to offer a buy price based on a percentage of what we thought the book(s) would sell for. It was based on experience with what sold in our sections (though most of us had a pretty good idea about all of the sections) and the current inventory.

"Authors include Dan Brown, Jodi Picoult, Katherine Ann Porter"

We got PILES and PILES of paperbacks like these. Hardly worth the paper they're printed on. Go on to see what they're selling for, that should give you an idea.

Don't bother taking the older kids books there - not a good market for them.
posted by HopperFan at 4:03 PM on July 27, 2011

I'd definitely suggest donation them to Open Books if you decide to go that route. Literacy nonprofit that sells books to fund their writing and reading programs for low-income kids and adults. Awesome stuff.
posted by anotheraccount at 5:20 PM on July 27, 2011

She's also trying to get rid of some older children's books, but that's besides the point.

On the contrary, depending on the books and their condition, that might be the exact point.

It's more labor intensive and time consuming, but there's always Amazon. More to the point, you can get a good idea there (as well as ABEBOOKS.COM) as to current market value of her stuff.

(I do have to wonder what class would require one to own Dan Brown....)
posted by IndigoJones at 6:04 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have managed two different used book stores and wouldn't even accept copies of authors like Dan Brown, let alone pay for them. Booksellers can't turn around without someone trying to sell them used paperback bestseller fiction.

I completely agree with the suggestion for Paperback Swap as a way to get some sort of value out of them.
posted by highfidelity at 8:15 PM on July 27, 2011

Response by poster: re: IndigoJones: It was a class on suspense and thriller fiction, I think. Or at least that's the only class she's told me about that would even SORT OF require that kind of book.

Re: Everyone: Thanks for all the input, definitely appreciating the better spread of options. I'm forwarding this thread to my girlfriend as we speak (And not really surprised that no one wants Dan Brown, it seems like something less than in-demand.)
posted by ThePantsAvenger at 10:18 PM on July 27, 2011

You can get a sense of what they're worth on - create an account and plug in the ISBNs and it will tell you the suggested prices.

Or just check Abebooks or Bookfinder, two of the most comprehensive online used book search engines. No account creation required.

I manage a used bookstore and I'll second the folks echoing cosmicbandito's answer: highly popular fiction like Dan Brown is very valuable on the used market at the time it comes out, but drops quickly to nothing once millions of copies flood the used market. We never pay cash for Dan Brown paperbacks now; folks dump them on us all the time. And his old hardbacks go right to the dollar table.

Classic fiction holds its value better, but popular science, history, cookbooks and other nonfiction are generally going to net you more from used bookstores.
posted by mediareport at 4:21 PM on July 29, 2011

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